Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Health officials at Entebbe International Airport will no longer use the Quick Response (QR) codes on PCR COVID-19 test certificates to determine their authenticity, Uganda Civil Aviation Authority-UCAA has revealed. A statement issued by UCCA says they have decided to drop the use of QR codes because they are “susceptible to forgeries”.
Adding that, “health officers are now using a “sophisticated system that is more reliable to ensure the safety of passengers and all users of the air transport system.” The statement stems from a video that is trending on social media platforms indicating that a female passenger missed her flight on Monday despite the fact that her COVID-19 test certificate had a QR code.
However, when health officials checked the system where all authorized laboratories upload the COVID-19 test results, the passenger’s name was missing. The officers concluded that the passenger hadn’t taken the COVID-19 test at the laboratory indicated on her certificate.
She was picked up and taken to the Aviation police station to record a statement. UCAA thereby says “the public shouldn’t be duped” by the passenger’s “baseless claims.” Dr. James Eyul, the Director of Kazuri Medical Services, which is supporting the health ministry at the airport asks travelers to abide by the guidelines or face the “wrath of the law.” He says they had earlier on picked up a man for presenting a fake a COVID-19 test certificate.
“We want to know who is involved. So these two suspects will be vital in the investigations,” Eyul said. Adding that, “This is an emerging issue because “when that passenger was arrested, five departing passengers (in the queue) who probably also had forged certificates fled the airport.”
Twenty-three passengers were arrested on Sunday with forged COVID-19 test certificates. They have since been charged with forgery and uttering forged documents. Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan spokesperson says the suspect’s files were dispatched to the DPP for perusal before the suspects appear in court for prosecution.
All travelers going through the airport are required to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 120 hours before their departure time while incoming passengers must have a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate issued within 72 hours before their flight.
The new guidelines came into effect on October 1st, 2020 when the government reopened Entebbe International Airport for commercial flights after the six-month lockdown. On average, 14 flights take place at the airport daily with at least 50 passengers on board ever since commercial flights resumed.
Over 50 departing passengers have missed their flights because of failure to present valid PCR COVID-19 test certificates. The certificates had either expired or were forged.